During silent meditation retreat, a young man raised his hand after the morning instructions to ask: “What is the nature of mind?” This is a profound question that some of the finest neuroscientists are wracking their brains to explore.
Let me tell you a story from the great 19th century Tibetan yogi, the “enlightened vagabond,” Patrul Rinpoche, who vowed never to sleep indoors. A couple hundred years ago, he and his disciple, Nyoshul Lungtok, were lying down on a hillside. Nyoshul Lungtok had asked Patrul Rinpoche the same question, “What is the nature of mind?” Rinpoche said, “Just come be around me.”
So there they were, 28 years later, relaxing on their backs and looking up at the stars, when they heard dogs barking in the monastery below in the valley. Patrul Rinpoche said, “Do you see the stars?”
“Do you hear the dogs barking in the distance?”
Suddenly Patrul Rinpoche shouted, “THIS IS IT!”
That was Nyoshul Lungtok’s introduction to the nature of mind, the ground of his being. Every moment of awareness, when we’re relaxed and open, this is it – a stream of momentary experiences we call our life. Fleeting, vivid, tragic, joyful, bittersweet life . . . Seeing this, we are free from the prison of reactivity, free to love, to dance, and to respond caringly to the big challenges of our 21st century.